House Democrats have been allowed recorded votes on 17 times the number of amendments that Senate Republicans have received from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., even though congressional rules traditionally give the Senate minority far more power than the House minority, according to Republican leaders.
"The Senate Republican minority has had eight roll call votes since July," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Tuesday. "The minority in the House of Representatives during the same period has had 136 roll call votes."
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., reminded reporters that the House majority has the power to block all amendments through the Rules Committee, whereas the standing rules of the Senate are much more empowering to the minority.
"[T]here's a one-man Rules Committee, and that's Harry Reid, and he's decided when and if Republicans are going to get to vote on any amendments. And that's at the same time that the American people are very disappointed in what's going on in the economy. The Pew poll that came out yesterday said that by a 2-1 margin Americans are thinking the economic conditions the country is in right now are poor."
Reid dismissed the Pew survey as unreliable. "These numbers don't mean anything," he said when asked about the survey results. "It's six months until the election, let's talk about it more closely at that time. An election is determined on election night, not by these people who do polls ... You can't call cell phones."
Republicans produced the statistic while saying they should be allowed to offer five amendments to an energy bill drafted by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Reid said that he would allow a vote on the energy bill and a vote on Keystone XL pipeline, per a prior agreement that he says he made with Republicans.
Republicans won't get the Keystone vote if they keep pushing for amendments to the energy bill. "At this stage, they're tied together," Reid said.